Extra-terrestrial life could be found on exoplanets by studying of atmospheric products

11 May 2018, 07:39 PM
Representative Image
Representative Image

The biological products present in the atmospheres of potentially habitable planets and around our solar system may help detect alien life, as per scientists.

The fingerprints of life named biosignatures, will be found by using next-generation telescopes that measure the gases and its composition in and around the planet that are light years away, as per a research published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

However, biosignatures on the basis of single measurements could be full of errors and misleading to the researchers.

Scientists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) in the US are working on the first quantitative framework for biosignatures completely on seasonal changes in Earth’s atmosphere.

"Atmospheric seasonality is a promising biosignature because it is biologically modulated on Earth and is likely to occur on other inhabited worlds," said Stephanie Olson of the University of California, Riverside (UCR).

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"Inferring life based on seasonality would not require a detailed understanding of alien biochemistry because it arises as a biological response to seasonal changes in the environment, rather than as a consequence of a specific biological activity that might be unique to the Earth," said Olson.

The researchers have identified the opportunities and pitfalls associated with the destruction of oxygen, methane, carbon dioxide and with characterising the seasonal formation, using the imaging technology called spectroscopy.

They also chalked out the fluctuations of atmospheric oxygen on a life-bearing planet with low oxygen measurement, similar to that of Earth billions of years ago.

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"It's really important that we accurately model these kinds of scenarios now, so the space and ground-based telescopes of the future can be designed to identify the most promising biosignatures," said Edward Schwieterman, a NASA Postdoctoral Program.

"In the case of ozone, we would need telescopes to include ultraviolet capabilities to easily detect it," said Schwieterman.

Although, Non-biological processes that masquerade as life and life on a planet that make few or no biosignatures are major concerns.

"Both oxygen and methane are promising biosignatures, but there are ways they can be produced without life," Schwieterman said.

Olson added that studying seasonal changes in oxygen or methane would be more informative for the researchers.

First Published: Thursday, May 10, 2018 04:22 PM
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